Friday, November 26, 2010

Why Are There No Fat Zombies?

Zombies have serious nourishment problems. All the human flesh they gulp seems to do them no good. Maybe, when first bitten, there's meat on their bones. However, in a few hours, days or weeks, they tend to look like the guy on the right. Ever see a zombie, especially one who has just eaten someone, take a satisfied nap? I think not.

They have terrible digestive problems as well. Ever see a zombie sitting on the toilet reading a newspaper? Once again, I think not! Eventually they must fill up completely, leaving no more room for living flesh. What do they do then? I can't help but feel sorry for them.

By now you must be wondering, why is Lonnie writing about the plight of zombies?

Well, I took a steam bath today. But beforehand, for the first time since the allo, I looked rather thoroughly at myself in the mirror. When I went into the hospital I weighed 45 more pounds than when I came out. That, my friends, is serious weight loss. In fact, if you really want to lose those extra pounds but hate to diet and exercise, have an allogeneic transplant! I guarantee, if you survive, it will work.

My bones, especially those in my back, stick out like those of my zombie friend. I can't even sit in the most comfortable office chair ever, my Herman Miller Aeron, without developing serious pain. A recent MRI, where I had to lie on that hard, cold, flat plank, was, well, exquisitely painful. Also, I have no shoulders. And size 34 jeans fall off by themselves.

My ability to eat has improved considerably. When I first left the hospital most foods were repulsive. Even Jello tasted vile. I subsisted mainly on TPN, which is a colossal pain. Today, food once more tastes like food and I can eat a reasonable amount of it on most days. Like my poor zombie, though, it doesn't seem to be doing me a lot of good.

I'm not the most patient person on the planet, but I can be impatient longer than just about anyone else. Sadly, that's really not the same thing. I am getting stronger as I struggle to climb stairs, leave the wheelchair at home, and do as much for myself as I possibly can, but my backbone still sticks out like a dorsal fin.

I'd post a naked picture of me but someone would complain and I'd get shut down, which is a shame because my picture would help people understand rib anatomy. Want to see a femur?

Ok, I'm done whining. I know that, in a few weeks, if I don't overdo it, I'll have enough flesh to sit in a chair or lie on my back. By then I'll be complaining about something else.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

An Ordinary Day

I woke up, drank coffee while reading the paper, ate a bowl of cereal. Swallowed my morning handful of pills.

Got myself dressed. It is still difficult to reach my toes, so donning socks is problematic, but after some contortions, I managed. Wearing my clothes, I look pretty good at 152 lbs, but without my clothes I look alarmingly thin. I lost 45lbs in hospital.

Walked unaided down the stairs to get in the car. Ivonne drove me to the hospital (I'm not quite ready to drive myself: I need more muscle for the pedals). For the first time, I walked to the doctor's office instead of using the wheelchair and sat in the waiting room just like everybody else.

On the way home Ivonne and I stopped at our favorite noodle shop for bowls of ramen. The soup was especially good today. We sat at the table for quite some time talking about how far we've come since the day we met, and how happy we were now. It seemed like a date. There was a lot of laughter, which was painful for Ivonne because she had a wisdom tooth extracted last week (they had to saw into the bone to get the stubborn thing out). She no longer looks quite like a chipmunk.

At home again, I found my neighbor fixing my lawnmower. John has taken care of my grass since last spring when I could no longer do it myself. He wheels out the trash on trash day and sweeps (and scrapes) the sidewalks. I did not ask him to do any of these things. He will take nothing in return. He and his wife are angels. He is a survivor of another kind of cancer. We had a good talk about that last year.

I was sure I wouldn't be able to climb the stairs after all the walking I did today, but up I went. I'm getting stronger.

I checked my email for everything I haven't been able to read since August. So many of my friends, new and old, were worried about me! I'm sorry I wasn't able to respond back then. There are so many emails I can't respond even now except to say I think of you as my extended family and am ever so thankful for you.

Tomorrow I have to do my taxes (from 2009, may Uncle Sam forgive me) and find out what we need to do to put the children in school. Every day I take a whack at the paperwork that I've ignored since, well, since January, really. It was an impressive pile but I'm nearing the bottom. I think about doing consulting work next year — but will anyone hire me in these difficult times?

In other words, it was a perfectly ordinary day, more-or-less like that of everyone else. I dealt with ordinary things in an ordinary way. I am happy. I'm in love. My step-children make me laugh. The cat's fur needs brushing.

My eyes tear up a little. I never thought I would ever see another ordinary day like today. It's another miracle.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Photographs you DON'T want to see


This is what I looked like a while back and 45lbs heavier, before the mini-allo transplant was even an idea. Recently, Ivonne showed me pictures of myself in the Intensive Care Unit. I was stunned, first at how awful I looked, then by the magnitude of the disaster I had survived.

Many of my dear friends visited me repeatedly in the ICU, even though my delirium prevented me from being aware of them. For a time it was rather obvious that I wasn't going to survive, what with heart problems (tachycardia, atrial fibrillation), kidney failure, pneumonia, liver dysfunction, and a severe gastrointestinal infection. I am profoundly touched that they wanted to be with me, but not one whit sorry to have wasted their time!

I have been reluctant to post Ivonne's pictures because I find them to be deeply disturbing. But perhaps you'll see them differently. I did promise to record everything about the transplant (I failed), so I put the pictures in this post after a big gap. You can decide for yourselves if you want to look at them. (If you click on them, I believe they will enlarge.)

[I remember trying to use my laptop, which was on the over-bed table just a few inches above me. Although I struggled mightily, I did not have the strength to lift my arm high enough to reach the keyboard. That's one reason I couldn't post a daily diary of events.]

One picture is rather fuzzy but I included it because it shows something like eleven drugs being infused into me at the same time.

Meanwhile, here's one I can put here:
Not Dead, Just Hiding